Sierra Leone + 2 more

United States announces additional results in grand challenge to fight Ebola

Innovations support current Ebola response and future epidemic preparedness

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
USAID Press Office
Telephone: +1.202.712.4320 | Email: | Twitter: @USAIDPress

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced today additional nominees for awards in the Fighting Ebola: a Grand Challenge for Development. A collaborative expert review identified 12 innovations that can reinforce the response to current and future Ebola outbreaks.

"We are embracing a new model of development--one that harnesses the power of science and technology to bend the curve of development," said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. "Through the Fighting Ebola Grand Challenge, we will continue to source, test, and scale groundbreaking innovations that will not only save lives in the months to come, but lay the foundation for more resilient and vibrant communities across West Africa."

Led by USAID, the Challenge launched in early October sourced new, practical solutions in close collaboration with the White House Office of Science and Technology, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense, and field experts. In just two months, the Challenge received over 1,500 ideas from around the world. U.S. Government experts and international partners evaluated and selected the most promising ideas.

Building off of the initial set of solutions for health care worker safety announced last December, this second wave of award nominees announces solutions for a broader range of gaps from improved health care worker tools, more rapidly-deployable care settings and fresh community education approaches critical for the final stages of the outbreak response, and cutting-edge health information technology solutions that enhance the current response and provide a bridge toward longer-term recovery. Together, these innovations will work to strengthen Ebola-affected communities and health care systems, establishing a foundation for resilience.

The following innovations will receive financial and/or other support and undergo intensive testing to ensure readiness for production and field deployment:

Cutting Edge Tools for Enhanced Patient Care

● Wearable Patient Sensors – The Scripps Translational Science Institute in partnership with PhysIQ, Rhythm Diagnostic Systems and Sotera

Wearable technologies - including a disposable, Bluetooth-enabled sensor that attaches like a band-aid and allows for remote monitoring of Ebola patients’ critical vital signs.

● DripAssist – Shift Labs

Low-cost, battery-powered infusion monitor that delivers fluids with precision to patients, eliminating the risk of fluid overload and enhancing survival.

Reimagining the Health Care Setting to Enhance Care, Increase Access and Improve Worker Safety

● Emergency ‘Smart’ Pod (ESP) – Baylor College of Medicine

Repurposed, easy-to-access shipping containers as scalable, rapidly deployable and potentially semi-permanent Ebola treatment units that include training and process pathways, as well as patient and supply tracking systems.

● Rapidly Deployable ETUs – Modula S Inc

Modular and rapidly deployable treatment units that use ultra-efficient building envelope technology to moderate unit temperature and simplify decontamination efforts for safer, more comfortable conditions.

● Reimagined Ebola Treatment Units – ResilientAfrica Network and Makerere University School of Public Health

Redesigned Ebola treatment tents that improve working conditions by significantly increasing air flow and decreasing temperature through ergonomic design and porous walls.

Improving the Safety of Health Care Workers

● Re-Engineered Health Care Worker Suit – International Personnel Protection in partnership with Cornell University and Kappler

Protective suit for healthcare workers re-engineered to be more breathable while still providing leak-free barrier protection, improved hood design and easier doffing/removal.

● Decontamination Chambers – TOMI Environmental Solutions

State-of-the-art, easy-to-assemble chambers that decontaminate health care workers and equipment in less than three minutes without hazardous chemicals.

● Highlight: Powdered Bleach Additive to Enhance Decontamination – Columbia University

Powdered additive that colorizes standard bleach solution, providing a visualization of sprayed surfaces, which ensures increased coverage and proper decontamination.

Changing Behavior to Eliminate Ebola

● Community Education Platform – IBM Research - Africa

Partnership with IBM to launch an innovative community engagement platform that facilitates two-way communication between public health officials and citizens using basic mobile phones to generate real-time, on-the ground information about public perceptions and community needs.

● Africa Stop Ebola Music and Media Campaign – 3D Family Productions / SOAS, University of London

Song recorded in local languages by twelve of West Africa’s most famous musical artists to promote communities’ adoption of behaviors that prevent Ebola transmission.

Information Communication Technology Solutions

● CommCare – Dimagi

An open source mobile platform that supports health data collection, decision support, client tracking, SMS communication, and map-based visuals to alleviate current communication burden and disconnect.

● mHero – IntraHealth International

A dynamic, integrated health management system that tackles the core communication gaps present in Ebola-affected communities, including contact tracing and clinical case management tools.

Through a whole-of-government approach, USAID and our U.S. Government partners are contributing to mounting an aggressive international effort to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Our goal is to enable the most effective international response possible, using our government-wide capabilities to fight the epidemic on a regional basis.

For more information on this Grand Challenge, visit

The U.S Agency for International Development’s Grand Challenge for Development initiative crowd-sources solutions to solve clearly-defined problem sets, engaging the world in a quest to discover, incubate, test, and accelerate innovative solutions that have the potential to solve the world’s greatest development challenges.

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